A Light To Starve By is a tale with vampires – an idea sillier than a horde of monkey-hangers. But then, Axel Taiari ain’t French for no reason. Proper readers won’t touch a vampire story with a ten-foot pole because of Meyer; the awful Twilighteers won’t read it because it makes them grow chest hair, something Edward clearly don’t have either.
So writing about those humanoid leeches in these awful days makes you either brilliant or mental – Taiari is probably both: brilliant in his prose, mental because of descent. In his vampire-infested Paris, the way to fight the threat of the brutal predators, is inject some kind of soup into the bloodstream. It makes the human’s blood poisonous to vampires. The species is quickly starving to death or carrying on, too pathetic to bear the name of “living”.
Obviously it is well-written or I wouldn’t have bothered talking about it. But what is probably even more fascinating is the story’s format. Taiari dives right into a peculiar niche of the eReader business, or so it seems. He’s found a big fat hole in Amazon’s way of doing and of course it needs to be filled. A tale that’s likely to be too long for a print magazine and too short to sell as a book on its own. That’s where Taiari leaps in head-first with A Light. These days nothing comes free and hardly anything comes for under a quid. This story does. It’s only 99 cents in odd money; that’s 60p in proper money. And sure a bibliophile like him, he wants to touch paper, he wants to feel the torn corners, he want to lose pages – who doesn’t want all this besides the trees who are notorious party crashers? But the times they are a-changin’ and these days are the days to get the bandwagon moving. Guess what? Taiari is way ahead of us all, at the steering wheel. “We’re at an interesting point. Amazon keeps telling us they are selling more Kindle copies than physical books. Some massive bookstore chains are closing down.”
So is that it, then? Are we getting robotised and computerised? Are we going to stare at the screen, refreshing our Facebook page every minute to see we have a new “friend”? Is that the new loneliness of the writer? Goodness gracious it’s not, but the way Taiari words it, brings lumps in my eyes and tears to my throat. “Sure I’m writing in a dingy apartment several hundred kilometres away,” he says, “far, far away from anyone I love. And it’s just so painfully obvious how important my girlfriend is. She Deals with my constant need to write – all those times I leave her alone in bed at night while I’m in the next room typing away. Every single time, without fail, she simply says, “Have fun,” and gives me a quick kiss before I close the door. Those words may be meaningless to her but they mean the world to me. She knows I refuse to hold down a full time shit job because it kills my productivity, and she knows it’ll take years to get to where I truly want to be. And she does not give a fuck. She’s there every step of the way.”
Taiari may very jolly well be a hopeless romantic; the urge he has to put down these words the best example. The Paris of A Light to Starve By is dearer to me than eleven dead Stephenie Meyers.
Axel Taiari is a French writer, born and raised in Paris. His work has appeared in various literary magazines, such as Dogmatika, 3:am Magazine, No Colony, 365tomorrows, and more. His stories have also been published in anthologies, including the upcoming Warmed And Bound (2011) alongside Stephen Graham Jones, Brian Evenson, Craig Clevenger, and other acclaimed writers. He is the creator and co-editor of Rotten Leaves magazine. He has recently finished a noir science-fiction novel and is now trying to sell his soul to the devil. Read more at http://www.axeltaiari.com and http://www.rottenleaves.com.